Core dimensions of vitality
There are seven core dimensions that people need to maintain vitality and energy in life and work. Why are these dimensions so important?
There are several basic conditions that must be met for people to attain an optimal mental and physical condition. They can be summed up as ‘core dimensions of vitality’. If these conditions are met only partially, or not at all, we pay a high personal and professional price. In the Netherlands, for instance, about 14% of employees feel they suffer from too much stress. Absence from work because of psychological complaints is 147 days on average, at an annual cost of approximately 2.7 billion euro. Much scientific research has been conducted showing that the ‘core dimensions of vitality’ attribute to a good mental and physical condition.
Mental and physical condition
It is an art to find a balance between relaxation and exertion, meeting challenges and time to recuperate. These are the most basic tips:
• drink 6-8 glasses of water every day;
• make sure to have three healthy meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner) every day;
• take a 10 minute break after every 90 minutes of work;
• make good use of longer breaks to recuperate (e. g., lunch break, evenings, weekends); actively try to find new energy and make sure to get a good night’s sleep (7 – 8 hours);
• focus on an activity that brings satisfaction on a daily basis;
• close the day by evaluating what you have achieved, no matter how little that may be;
• find a fitting balance between being on your own and being together with others;
• relax actively: read, exercise, be with friends;
• learn to recognize your own stress indicators and how to react to them;
• take at least an hour of physical exercise a day;
• take a midday ‘power nap’ (20 – 30 minutes).
Dimensions of vitality
Appreciation / feedback
A dimension that entails feedback in any positive or negative way. In a professional context this comprises work evaluation, performance reviews as well as occasional informal compliments. People need a touchstone or mirror to check their own behavior. Think of questions such as: ‘How do I come across?’ or ‘Am I good enough at my work?’ Less appreciation and feedback leads to more work pressure. Questions may arise such as ‘Why am I doing this at all?’ Appreciation is also expressed financially.
Team / belonging
A sense of belonging is a vital need for people. After all, people are gregarious and like to play a meaningful role within a group, they want to cooperate and do their best for others. It is important that besides discussing work, there is time for banter and jokes. The more isolated people feel within a team, the more pressure of work they experience. A typical reaction: ‘We’re all working so hard, we have no time for each other, I feel like a workhorse more than a colleague’.
It is important to have control over and influence on the organization and content of one’s own work. Things that come to mind include quality, amount and planning of work, and scheduling of breaks and time off. Less control over these aspects implies more pressure of work. An extreme example of lack of self-control is assembly line work.
The essence of this dimension is that the level of challenge should be in accordance with personal possibilities. Stress may result from too much or too little challenge in work. In other words, work capacity and workload must be in accordance. This demands a rational estimate of personal possibilities, both from the individual and from the organization.
People need prospects in life. They need the security of having a job, a regular source of income, a pay raise, opportunities for promotion (specialization, management, executive) and education, diversification of work. The vision and mission of the organization play an important role here in stimulating and motivating its employees. Lack of prospects, such as reorganizations or possible redundancy, causes stress.
Finding balance in giving and taking
It is important for the involvement and motivation of people that they experience a balance in what they give to and take from their work, in the broadest possible sense. No financial incentive can possibly motivate people who feel that their contribution is negligible, that the company uses them as a ‘means of production’. Personal attention, respect, an open mind and appreciation will help people feel that there is a balance in giving and taking.
As a matter of course, the need for these dimensions to be present varies from person to person. Lack of one dimension may be compensated by a stronger presence of another, for example when someone feels that although the job offers little challenge, his or her colleagues are very pleasant to work with, and decides to stay on because of that. Conversely, lack of one dimension may come to be so distressing that others can no longer compensate for it: ‘The work is great, my colleagues are great, but these reorganizations have made it impossible for me to do well. I just don’t fit in anymore’.